or Fooling Old Man Winter
I think of it as my "stealth gardening" outfit—the multiple layers of black that make sitting in the sun enjoyable this time of year. In summer black gets hot enough that it almost burns you. In December, as long as you're out of the wind, it keeps you roasty-toasty, especially in a small, walled garden. This weekend the temperature was only about 30°F when I went outside in the mornings, but wearing black in the sunshine let me make an end run around the cold.
Gardening is like dressing to outwit winter in a way—a set of tricks of the trade that let you make the most of nature's gifts while circumventing its extremes. You grow things that will thrive in your climate, but you also water new plantings more carefully than nature would so that they grow deep, strong root systems. You loosen and amend the soil. And you mulch.
Since losing a fair amount of newly laid pecan shell mulch in a recent windstorm, I've been stealthily tracking the portions of it that just went into hiding to their lairs: in the mess of suckering growth beneath the largest sand cherry, tucked into the corner with the scariest spider webs (why couldn't they blow away?) beneath the blue bench, or drifted up against the grasses. I coax it out with a gentle hand fork and then rehome it to the barest spots. It's not much insulation, but it might be enough to fool Old Man Winter if he doesn't look too closely.
As I was sidling around the garden hunting for errant patches of mulch, I spotted this in the central bed:
One of the sylvestris tulips (I think) is coming up—actually, quite a number of them are. I've never grown them before so don't know if they normally break ground before the first day of winter or if this is jumping the gun. Did I plant them too shallowly? too early? too late? I'm not sure whether they have a clever strategy for making an end run around winter or whether they're trying to steal a base—to sneak over to third while the pitcher isn't looking. If the latter, I'm dubious. How often does that succeed?
You can do a lot to trick Old Man Winter, but I don't know if he's going to fall for this one.